Columbia University Libraries/Information Services' (CUL/IS) Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS), in collaboration with the Department of Italian and CUL/IS’ Humanities and History Division, are pleased to announce the launch of the new Digital Dante website at digitaldante.columbia.edu, a publicly accessible digital research resource on Dante’s works with a special focus on the Divine Comedy and its translations.
Digital Dante was conceived of by Dr. Jennifer Hogan when, as a Columbia graduate student in the early 1990s under the advisement of Dr. Robbie McClintock, she collaborated on the original website with Dr. Teodolinda Barolini and others from the Department of Italian and the Institute for Learning Technologies, as well as with the poet and translator, Allen Mandelbaum. The website proved invaluable to the Dante community, relied on as a rich research resource by researchers and students all over the world.
Over twenty years later, this new iteration of the website was made possible by CDRS, the Department of Italian as guided by Digital Dante Editor-in-Chief Dr. Barolini, Dr. Hogan, CUL/IS’ Humanities and History Division, and numerous PhD students in Dante studies. The relaunched and greatly enhanced website seeks to provide a venue for collaboration with scholars at other institutions and for new research and perspectives from the next generation of Dante scholars. Along with a beautiful new design showcasing images from Columbia’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the website features a number of new digital projects, including the Intertextual Dante, a new tool for exploring intertextual relationships between Ovid’s works and the Divine Comedy developed by Professor Julie Van Peteghem, and recorded audio performances of sestina readings by students, performing the poems in the unique style explored throughout Professor Barolini’s courses. The new Digital Dante retains and expands upon many of the essential features of the original site: translations of Dante’s works with easily navigable primary and comparison texts, lecture audio and annotations, and criticism and context.
Dr. Barolini, Lorenzo Da Ponte Professor of Italian at Columbia University, said of the launch: “Digital Dante, in its first incarnation, was a pioneer in the digital humanities, and I am happy and excited and proud that we have been able to breathe new life into the venerable site. I envision Digital Dante as a place where graduate students in Italian at Columbia—and former graduate students as well—can become involved in the digital humanities and contribute their original work. For me, besides the gratification of seeing students and colleagues form a vibrant community of digital researchers and scholars, there has been the opportunity to turn the emails I send my class into “Introductions” to each canto. So doing, I have learned first-hand the pleasure of writing scholarly commentary in the imagination-freeing digital environment. What sets Digital Dante apart is precisely the amount of original content that it offers now and will continue to offer for years to come.”
Dr. Hogan, Digital Dante Founding Editor, said: “This 2014 launch of Digital Dante is so exciting to me because it highlights the robust and relevant nature of humanities studies, especially in environs like Columbia that provide the necessary technical support and collaboration with its scholars as part of its essential architecture in the likes of CDRS. I began Digital Dante more than 20 years ago at Columbia as a PhD research project exploring how digital technologies might enrich scholarly pursuits, engage amateur audiences in esoteric works, and innovate upon the architecture of schooling as a whole. Because of the foresight and generous intellect of individuals like Teo Barolini of the Italian Department, Robbie McClintock of Teachers College, as well as then Vice-Provost Michael Crow, Digital Dante continues to invite cross-disciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration, resulting in multi, multi-media research contributions, and an ever-expanding Dante student body. The collaboration of Columbia’s Italian Department with CDRS on this Digital Dante launch makes me incredibly optimistic about the state of the university.”
Dr. Akash Kumar, Digital Dante Managing Editor and lecturer in the Department of Italian, said: “This launch is the thrilling culmination of some three years of work in refashioning Digital Dante for a new generation of scholars and readers. With new content featuring images from early print editions in the Rare Books and Manuscript Library at Columbia, a canto-by-canto commentary by Teodolinda Barolini, and digital projects like the recorded reading of sestinas, we have transformed the site and moved a little closer to realizing Jen Hogan’s founding vision of the site as a multimedia translation of Dante’s Commedia. As Managing Editor of the project, I want to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of the editorial team of Dante scholars and graduate students as well as the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship: this project represents a remarkable collaboration of scholars and technology; we hope that it will transform the experience of reading the Commedia and drive research in ever more innovative ways.”
Rebecca Kennison, CDRS Director, commented: “It has been a pleasure to collaborate with Professor Barolini, Dr. Hogan, students in the Department of Italian, and our colleagues in the CUL/IS Humanities and History Division to revivify an important, media-rich, publicly accessible digital research resource for Dante scholars the world over. We greatly look forward to seeing what new research, collaborations, and perspectives will emerge from this 21st-century iteration of Digital Dante.”
The Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS) works to increase the utility and impact of research produced at Columbia by creating, adapting, implementing, supporting, and sustaining innovative digital tools and publishing platforms for content delivery, discovery, analysis, data curation, and preservation. The Center engages in extensive outreach, education, and advocacy to ensure that the scholarly work produced at Columbia University has a global reach and accelerates the pace of research across disciplines. CDRS is one of six entities that comprise the Digital Programs and Technology Services branch of Columbia University Libraries/Information Services.
Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 11 million volumes, over 150,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 500 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.
Drawing on a distinguished history initiated in 1825 by Lorenzo Da Ponte, celebrated librettist of Mozart's operas and first teacher of Italian at Columbia University, the Department of Italian is known for providing broad coverage of Italian literature and culture and boasts a faculty that represents a diverse spectrum of interests and critical approaches. The department offers all levels of language instruction, including intensive courses and conversation classes. In addition, students are able to take advantage of the events sponsored by the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America, and Butler Library is home to the Paterno collection, a unique resource for the study of Italian literature.